There aren't many TV shows that get a second lease on life after being canceled. But TNT's gritty crime drama Southland has thrived since switching networks after being canceled by NBC in 2009 at the end of its first season.
Southland has earned praise for its emotionally raw and brutally realistic portrayal of the lives of the police officers who patrol the most crime-ridden areas of Los Angeles.
The show returns to TNT for its fifth season with 10 new episodes that begin airing Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET. The just-released six-disc Southland: The Complete Second, Third and Fourth Seasons (2010-12, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, not rated, $60) can get both old and new viewers up to speed with all 26 episodes from those three seasons. The latter two are on DVD for the first time. A handful of special features (focused mainly on Season 2), including one on how it redefines the cop drama, are part of the set.
Throughout its run, Southland's fast-paced action, well-developed characters and palpable sense of danger have made it one of the most riveting shows on TV. Everyone from grizzled veterans to inexperienced rookies face that danger, and there is no guarantee that they'll solve the crimes that they're investigating, or even make it through the day. And oftentimes, the pressures of work spill over into their lives at home.
The series, which is shot on location in the streets of Los Angeles, stars Michael Cudlitz as Officer John Cooper, Shawn Hatosy as Officer Sammy Bryant, Regina King as Detective Lydia Adams and Ben McKenzie as Officer Ben Sherman.
In the most recent season, Cooper returns to work after back surgery and overcoming an addiction to painkillers and gets a new partner, Jessica Tang (Lucy Liu). Sammy gives up being a detective and returns to the streets as a uniformed patrolman. Adams also gets a new partner - Ruben Robinson (Dorian Missick) - and comes to terms with her pregnancy. Ben, a probationary officer in Season 3, becomes a full-fledged patrolman and partners with Sammy.
Southland was created by Emmy-winning writer Ann Biderman (NYPD Blue). She was joined as executive producer by Emmy winners Christopher Chulack and John Wells, who had both worked on the medical drama ER and emergency services drama Third Watch. It premiered on NBC in April 2009 and had a critically acclaimed seven-episode run. NBC initially announced in August that it had been renewed for a second season to begin airing in October, but abruptly canceled it. TNT stepped in, bought the first season's episodes and the six for the second season that had already been completed. For the past three years, it has been renewed for 10-episode seasons.